After winning ugly at Udinese on Sunday, Fiorentina are on the road for the 3rd consecutive match, heading down to Frosinone for a date with the newly-promoted side and a bunch of familiar faces. These sides have only met 4 times, having each won once, drawn twice, and lost once. Their most recent matchup was a 0-1 loss for the Viola in the accursed finale to 2019 (16 games without to close the season fighting for safety on the final match day).
The referee for this one is 39-year-old Francesco Fourneau of Rome, who’s yet to ref a Serie A match this year. In 36 previous top flight appearances, he’s handed out 185 yellow cards, 6 red cards, and 14 penalties; as you might imagine, he’s got a reputation for handing out penalties left and right. In 3 games under his direction, Fiorentina have won, drawn, and lost. The last we saw him was a spot kick-fueld 1-1 draw with Hellas Verona back in 2020
The match will be played on Thursday, 28 September 2023, at 4:30 PM GMT/12:30 PM EST, at the Stadio Benito Stirpe in Frosinone. The forecast calls for a hot, humid afternoon with temperatures around 28°C/83°F. The only positive is that the early kickoff on a weekday means there may be a lower turnout than usual, so don’t be surprised if the stadium isn’t at its 16,227 capacity.
The Ciociari won Serie B last year by 7 points, stamping their 3rd Serie A appearance in history. Given their current progress—8 points from their first 5 matches, including wins over Atalanta and Sassuolo—they’ll like their odds to stay up for the first time ever, especially with the confidence that their current form gives them. Despite having the 2nd-youngest squad in the top flight, they’re brimming with well-deserved confidence and need to be treated like a top half side until they prove otherwise.
Manager Eusebio di Francesco won’t have CB Sergio Kalaj, RB Pol “free” Lirola, CM Abdou Harroui, or AM Francesco Gelli. As you’d expect from EdF, this is a 4-3-3 team focused on quick passing and skillful wing play. Matías Soule looks the main threat from the front line, using his pace and dribbling to create chances, but the midfielders have actually chipped in more goals than the forwards. Keep an eye out for a massive ex-Fiorentina contingent as well: besides Lirola, Michele Cerofolini, Giuseppe Caso, and Jaime Báez are all in the side, as is Real Madrid (!) loanee Reinier.
Frosinone have been pretty patient in possession, happy to pass the ball across the back and only get it forward when they spot a gap. They’ll try to work it quickly to the wingers, getting them isolated on the opposing fullbacks while getting their own fullbacks forward. As you’d expect, they focus more on quick transitions, stretching opponents and always trying to get in behind (2nd-most offsides in Serie A). Expect them to be a bit more proactive than most of Fiorentina’s recent opponents, which could either disrupt the Viola or play right into their hands.
Despite winning ugly and coping with a hatful of absences and a mid-game tactical adjustment, a lot of the narrative around Fiorentina right now is pretty negative. It’s a bit of a surprise, considering that the team’s sitting in 7th place with 10 points from its first 5 matches (and a chance to go 4th with a win here), but critics claim that the Viola have been more lucky than good and that everything is going to fall apart any moment. Around here, of course, we just call that Fiorentina.
Manager Vincenzo Italiano won’t have CB Yerry Mina, RB Dodô, or CM Gaetano Castrovilli and may ease AM Antonín Barák, AM Gino Infantino, RW Nicolás González, and RW Jonathan Ikoné back into action. The real question is what to do at rightback, where Michael Kayode’s the obvious solution but Cristiano Biraghi, Lucas Martínez Quarta, and even Riccardo Sottil have been mooted as short-term solutions. The usual questions about rotation in other spots remain, but that fullback spot feels like the keystone for all of Cousin Vinnie’s other choices.
Frosinone like to counterpress high when then lose the ball but are also happy to drop deep into their shape when that doesn’t work. Expect Italiano to have his left winger (Sottil, Josip Brekalo, Christian Kouamé, or maybe even González) attack the inexperienced Anthony Oyono at rightback. There aren’t too many other weak links, as the defense boasts a good mix of youthful athleticism and veteran craftiness, while the midfield is mobile and good at breaking up play. Keep an eye on Stefano Turati in goal, as he’s been one of Serie A’s better keepers so far and, at just 22, looks like he could feature for Italy at some point.
How to watch
TV: Doubtful, but check the international television listings if you want to be sure.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
The bookmakers have Fiorentina as pretty big favorites, which I find a little surprising. Frosinone have been strong at home, scoring in all their games at the Stirpe and winning 2 of them, with the only loss coming in the opener to Napoli. The Canarini have a few injuries, sure, but so do the Viola. The 2.5 goals in this one feels like the right line, but I’d probably bet the over, as both these teams are better going forward than backward.
I’ll still take Fiorentina to win it. Despite the loss of Dodô, the visitors should have some momentum, and the mystery of his replacement could give di Francesco some headaches in the leadup. I’ll call it a 1-2 win with Báez opening the scoring (Fiorentina beffata) with Beltrán opening his account to cancel it out and Jack winning it from the spot in a match that’s chaotically fun for the neutral but awfully stressful for the Viola fans.